Bird’s, the Love Pudding

English food writers regularly discuss Bird’s Custard, the dessert powder that has been called the first food of the Industrial Age, as a symptom of commercial-minded crassness. Actually, though, its origin was romantic--Mr. Bird invented it for his wife, who was allergic to both eggs and yeast and otherwise couldn’t have had dessert.

The Marmalade That Preserves?

An Australian firm produces Wood’s Olde Style Preserves, including a marmalade flavored with eucalyptus. Might be a wise investment; eucalyptus oil is so pungent that eucalyptus trees are largely free of insect pests in this country.

Try the Dark Linguine


Hershey Foods, the chocolate company, plans to build a $60-million factory in Virginia to manufacture pasta. Don’t ask what kind of sauce they recommend.

Coffee’s Younger Brother

Tea first appeared in 17th-Century Europe as as a sideline sold in coffeehouses. Probably because it was made like herbal teas (tisanes), it was originally considered medicinal--as it still is in France and Belgium.

Ask Mr. Wizard


Why doesn’t tea pour straight out of a teapot, but instead tends to spill to one side or another? Because the rapidly moving tea causes lower pressure (the same factor that gives an airplane wing its lift), and the air pushes it against the lip of the spout. It’s in order to avoid this kind of problem that a chemist doesn’t pour a chemical directly out of a flask, but along a glass stirring rod that keeps the liquid in line.

A McCourt McCase

McDonald’s is suing a pair of dentists in Albany, N.Y., who call their practice McDental. The dental duo use a McDonald’s-like logo and a “menu” of dental services, but they argue McD didn’t complain for the first six years they were open, and anyway, that Big D doesn’t own every name beginning with Mc.

No Thanks, I’m Trying to Cut Down on Flower

In old Japan, courtesans were reluctant to speak of foodstuffs directly. Instead of asking for “salt,” for instance, they’d ask for “the flower of the wave.”